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Saint John tenants nervous about Historica real estate deal – CBC.ca

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A major real estate transaction in uptown Saint John has many tenants concerned.

Hazen Property Investments has sold 20 of its buildings to Historica Developments.

They include the McArthur on Germain Street and another 12-unit building on the west side to name just a couple.

“My gut feeling was anxiety — stress,” said Jeff Arbeau, who has been renting from Hazen for years.

Hazen is known for good-quality units at reasonable prices.  

Historica is known for fixing up older buildings and turning them into luxury units.

We kind of realize there’s probably too many high-end expensive units that most people, we understand, can’t afford.– Keitch Brideau, Historica

Their prices “far exceed” Arbeau’s price range.

Historica rents typically range from $1,200 to $2,000 a month, while Hazen’s are $400 to $700.

“It would have a massive impact ability on my ability to live,” said Arbeau.

Many of his neighbours are also worried.

The information package they received from the new owner asked for debit pre-authorizations for rent payments and promised continued “exceptional” service but didn’t make any assurances about future rental fees. 

Keith Brideau is reassuring Hazen tenants their rents will not be going up. (CBC)

“They don’t have to worry about it,” said Keith Brideau, president and founder of Historica.

Brideau said his company is not planning to increase rents for any current tenants or to change fees for parking, heat or lights.

That’s because he won’t have to recoup investments for any major upgrades.

“They’ve done an excellent job of taking care of their properties,” said Brideau. “Some of them are real gems.”

As tenants move out, he said, units will get things like fresh paint, refinished floors, and new countertops. 

Future tenants, might be charged $50 to $150 a month more than the current rates.

“We definitely aren’t going to be pricing people out of the market,” said Brideau.

Brideau partnered with investors Dr. David Elias and Alex Elias to purchase the Saint John City Hall tower in 2018. (Julia Wright/CBC)

Historica is looking to expand into the “middle market,” he said, where rents range from $500 to $1,000 a month.

“We kind of realize there’s probably too many high-end expensive units that most people, we understand, can’t afford.”

Arbeau said another concern of his is about losing the “mom and pop” service he had from Hazen.

“You can contact them with a need, and they’ll get to you right away,” he said. “They know your name. They help you any way they can.”

Brideau said his company is aiming to match or improve the level of service.

Coun. Donna Reardon says she’s been hearing from concerned tenants for the past two months, since Historica began inspecting Hazen properties. (CBC)

“I’ve spent many a Christmas Day in a furnace room trying to get a furnace going with my dad,” said John Hazen, general manager of Hazen Property Investments.

Hazen’s grandfather bought the company’s first building 100 years ago.

Hazen said he had a heavy heart about the sale, but it was a good business opportunity and the right choice for his family.

Hazen had 13 employees. That’s being reduced to about seven.

Historica’s Park Place redevelopment on Canterbury Street. (Julia Wright/CBC)

Some of the people losing their jobs were close to retirement, he said, and all are receiving severance packages based on their years of service.

Hazen still has 270 units, including Regency Towers on the east side, some on Coldbrook Crescent, and one on the west side.

Municipal leaders have been inundated with messages about the Hazen sell-off.

Their buildings are “little micro-communities,” said Coun. Donna Reardon, who represents Ward 3, which includes the uptown and central peninsula.

“Those neighbours will look after each other,” Reardon said. “People who are in them are there for a long time. … If you’re there seven or eight years, you’re one of the newbies in a lot of Hazen’s buildings.

“So, that is upsetting to think that your neighbours may have to move, or you may have to move out.”

Everyone’s “major concern,” she said, “is that rent will go up extraordinarily.”

There aren’t any rent control mechanisms available to the city, but Reardon said she expects the market will control itself to some degree.

“He can skyrocket the rents, I suppose,” said Reardon, “but what will the market bear in Saint John?”

Reardon said she’d be interested in exploring best practices across the country on rent controls, but she is reluctant to do anything that would stifle development and growth.

Information Morning – Saint John22:06Historica developer pledges no rent hikes

Hazen Apartments was in the rental business in Saint John for 100 years. This week they sold all 20 of their buildings to Historica Developments. We hear from a former Hazen tenant, developer Keith Brideau, who bought the properties and an expert on affordable housing. 22:06

Some are worried that Historica may own too big a share of the local housing market and that this will give it monopoly-like power over prices and availability of apartments.

Historica now owns nearly 40 buildings containing a total of about 400 units.

Brideau estimated that represents five per cent or less of the rental market.

Julia Woodhall Melnik’s big concern is potential gentrification — the displacement of people who live uptown because it’s affordable.

“Where are they displaced into?” asked the assistant professor and director of the laboratory for housing and mental health at UNB Saint John.

The north end is one possibility, said Woodhall Melnik, but deficiencies in the public transit system would make it difficult for vulnerable populations to get to uptown services.

Saint John promotes itself as having relatively low housing prices when it comes to buying, she noted, but limited rental stock means rents are less affordable.

Woodhall-Melnik is hoping developers and landlords will take advantage of government funding available for rent subsidies and affordable housing developments.

Information Morning – Saint John15:33We continue the conversation on affordable housing

We continue our discussion of affordable housing in Saint John. Hazen Property Investments talks about the decision to sell 20 of their buildings. And Ward 3 city councillor Donna Reardon tell us what her constituents are saying and what the city can and can’t do to keep rents reasonable for people. 15:33

Brideau agreed affordable housing is a big issue and said he “would like to be part of that solution.”

He said Historica might announce something on that front within the next year.

Brideau said more construction is happening now in Saint John than he’s seen in the last 20 years. He noted one non-profit building is going up now on Wellington Row.

Reardon said affordable housing is “on everybody’s radar.”

She noted there are still many vacant lots in peninsula neighbourhoods.

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Real Estate Brokerage Compass Taps Banks for IPO – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — Compass, a SoftBank-backed company that’s among the largest real estate brokerages in the U.S., has selected underwriters for a potential initial public offering, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

The New York-based startup is working with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley ahead of a listing that’s slated for 2021, said the person, who requested anonymity because the information isn’t public.

Representatives for Compass and Goldman declined to comment. A spokesman for Morgan Stanley didn’t immediately have a comment.

Compass was founded in 2012 by Ori Allon and Robert Reffkin, a Goldman alum who was once Gary Cohn’s chief of staff at the bank. It positions itself as a real estate firm that uses technology to give its agents an advantage over rivals. The company has used capital from venture investors to expand by acquiring smaller brokerages across the U.S.

Low mortgage rates have fueled a housing rally in the U.S. as Americans seek more space to spread out in the pandemic. That’s boosted residential real estate companies, including Zillow Group Inc. and Opendoor, another SoftBank-backed company. Realogy Holdings Corp., which owns Compass competitor Corcoran Group, has seen its shares rally about 28% this year.

In addition to SoftBank, which participated in a $370 million funding round last year that valued Compass at $6.4 billion, investors include Goldman Sachs, Fidelity, Wellington Management, Founders Fund, Dragoneer Investment Group and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, according to its website.

Former American Express Chief Executive Officer Ken Chenault and Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff are also investors.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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Commercial Real Estate: Navigating Opportunities And Challenges Ahead (Video) – Real Estate and Construction – Canada – Mondaq News Alerts

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Canada:

Commercial Real Estate: Navigating Opportunities And Challenges Ahead (Video)

To print this article, all you need is to be registered or login on Mondaq.com.

Uncertainties currently abound in many sectors and commercial
real estate is no exception. While the COVID-19 pandemic has caused
some level of distress in certain sectors of the commercial real
estate market, it has also opened doors for stakeholders and
presented opportunistic transactions with their own unique set of
risks and important structuring considerations, particularly in the
restructuring and insolvency space.

In this video, Graham Rawlinson and Charlene Schafer briefly
discuss what to expect in our upcoming webinar on December 3 on
commercial real estate. Some of the key topics to be explored
are:

  • preparing for bankruptcy or insolvency opportunities that may
    affect the Canadian real estate market, and what to consider when
    dealing with assets going through some type of a debtor/creditor
    process;
  • funds focused on distressed and opportunistic real estate
    assets, and whether the ongoing distress in the market will
    continue to present new opportunities; and
  • distressed opportunities south of the border and unique
    considerations affecting the U.S. commercial real estate
    market.

Play the short clip below and register for the webinar here.

self

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

POPULAR ARTICLES ON: Real Estate and Construction from Canada

Asserting Privilege In The Condominium Context

Field LLP

The issue of asserting solicitor-client privilege in the condominium context is an interesting one, especially as between the condominium corporation and the individual unit owners

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Nakisa to acquire real estate management tech firm IMNAT | RENX – Real Estate News EXchange

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IMAGE: Nakisa CEO Babak Varjavandi. (Courtesy Nakisa)

Nakisa CEO Babak Varjavandi. (Courtesy Nakisa)

Montreal-based software company Nakisa is expanding into the real estate technology market with the acquisition of IMNAT Software, a cloud-based real estate management solution.

Nakisa CEO Babak Varjavandi said IMNAT’s real estate management technology will be added to Nakisa’s lease management solutions portfolio.

“By combining the breadth of our lease accounting knowledge with their real estate expertise, we’re poised to disrupt the corporate real estate market, which is currently reliant on outdated processes and proptech legacy software,” he told RENX.

IMNAT is also Montreal-based. The start-up has about a half dozen employees and has entered the sales phase for its platform, which it markets specifically at businesses which manage their real estate.

“Our reimagined corporate real estate solution will offer customers a complete modern end-to-end solution that leverages the Nakisa cloud platform and provides full ITGC (IT general controls), GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), user management and more,” Varjavandi said. “We truly believe we can disrupt this market because I think we are much further ahead . . . of our competitors with the technology.

“At the end of the day, because of the technology that we have, we believe we can bring in all these other pillars to provide an end-to-end solution.”

He said IMNAT Software’s technology will complement and extend Nakisa’s existing lease accounting product line and address increasing demand for global corporate real estate management solutions.

The acquisition is set to close on Jan. 1, 2021.

Nakisa and IMNAT

Nakisa released the first version of its product in 2000. The company has two lines of business – one addressing human resources and the other in leasing. It will now expand to provide end-to-end lease management which will include real estate and lease accounting.

The company also has offices in Frankfurt, Singapore, Florida and Pakistan.

Varjavandi said the company name is also his mother’s name.

He said IMNAT Software, founded in 2011, has a core product, InfoSite, which is a leading edge corporate real estate management software designed to centralize and manage corporate real estate accounts.

The platform features databased reporting and dashboards, streamlines corporate lease operations and manages data for leases, taxation, payments and rent rolls.

“When we talked to our customers and looked at the market, what we found that was interesting is that the real estate software industry hasn’t really evolved,” said Varjavandi. “They’re still using very old technology and it’s very costly to implement.

“Even if they’re on the cloud, they’re really not what we call a native cloud application.

“We saw huge opportunity in that area. For us to enter that market, we had a choice of either building the whole real estate functionality, which is the operation day-to-day activity of maintaining your real estate.

“Or we had to acquire a company that already had a customer base, they already had the expertise and they could use their expertise and that’s what happened. We saw this made-in-Montreal company.”

IMNAT has some major clients

Nakisa became familiar with IMNAT because the companies share some of the same clients.

IMNAT’s customer base include large private corporations such as Dollarama, Transcontinental and Lowe’s Canada, as well as some of the largest public government institutions in Canada.

Nakisa and IMNAT will combine their technology and networks. They will also combine their company-level data to generate a more accurate financial planning repository of information for trends and projections.

Varjavandi said InfoSite will be integrated into Nakisa’s product line and branded under the Nakisa umbrella. In January, IMNAT’s team, including CEO and co-owner Alexis Dénommée-Godin and co-owner Jean-François Bechard, will join Nakisa.

“I’m extremely proud of the quality software our team has built over the years and it’s an honour to be recognized and chosen by an established lease accounting brand that serves Fortune 500 companies around the world,” said Dénommée-Godin in a statement announcing the sale.

“Joining Nakisa allows us to take our real estate expertise to the global market and fulfill a need that has a tangible impact on both businesses and people.”

Unify divergent software products

Varjavandi said Nakisa serves more than 900 enterprise customers and over one million subscribers in 24 industries. Its client base includes a number of different industries, including retail, pharmaceutical and airlines. It has users in over 120 countries and supports 18 languages.

He said the acquisition of IMNAT presents a huge opportunity for Nakisa to both better serve existing customers and attract new ones.

“We are seeing companies having multiple software and we think we can actually unify the whole leasing, both for accounting and operations side, under one umbrella,” Varjavandi said. “From our perspective, any kind of asset you have we can provide an end-to-end solution.

“On the real estate side, we have a few customers who are interested in expanding on that to things like facility management and project management. Those are areas we’re also working with them. The beauty of the customers that we have, because these are very large customers, they’re actually willing to engage with us . . .

“From a customer perspective, the whole implementation and management is already done for them because it falls on the same platform.”

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